The Tragedy of Oil Exploration—Politics, Education, and Community Development in the Niger Delta
The pictures show gas being flared just behind a school somewhere in the Niger Delta. The gas fare is circled in the pictures. The other picture shows a dilapidated classroom block in that same school.
This phenomenon is a recurrent scenario in the oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta.
Politics according to David Easton is the authoritative allocation of resources. While Harold Laswell defines politics thus, “the process of determination of who gets what, when, and how much”. From these definitions, it is purely about interest and the allocation of resources.
It takes selfless acts of leadership to maximize moments, men, money and materials to achieve improvement in the lives of their people.
It takes visionary leadership to have the interest of the people first before your pockets. It takes visionary leadership to set developmental objectives and harness the factors of men, money, moments and materials to achieve improvement in the lives of the citizenry. It takes futuristic political leaders to see education of their youths as an investment in the future of their nation.
From the community leadership level, traditional rulers, local government, state and federal levels in Nigeria, there is a feeling I have that makes me think that we should have coexisted peacefully with citizens of our colonial masters as equals in our new nation; a similar feeling I had when I visited Kunukunuma.
Our politicians and even the citizens don’t behave as if this nation belongs to us and our great grandchildren.
Nigeria has become a nation of hustlers and desperate deal makers. We behave like a landlord removing the fittings of his building and selling them to buy drugs.
The phenomenon in economics—like I mentioned in Community-Initiated Development And the Sub-urban Economy—called the “Dutch Disease” has metastasized to malignant Dutch Cancer.
Questions we must answer
- Why flare gas and pollute our environment when you can easily generate electricity from gas turbines like it was in Kolo Creek and Ogulagha? There is no reason why we should have electrical power issues in the Niger Delta.
If we can only generate power to have constant electricity, the Niger Delta will become an industrial hub. The cost of production will drastically reduce, prices of commodities will fall, and there will be more disposable income and more demand. This subsequently leads to more profits, more taxable income to government, and more employment; the cycle continues all over.
The health of the people will improve. If we have just a reduction in cases of malaria and stress-related diseases, it will save us a lot of money.
The money we will save from generators and fuel to power them will be plowed into other sectors like health, education, roads, trains, etc.
- The money spent on campaigns, consultations, branding of vehicles, seeking endorsements from traditional rulers, clergymen, and old politicians in Delta state alone will be up to 100 Billion Naira at least.
These sums were not spent because these fellows and their sponsors outside the Niger Delta, who own the oil wells, love the Niger Delta and her people. They are only interested in their share of the oil wealth.
There are young politicians in the Niger Delta who import harlots from India, Brazil, and South Africa to the Niger Delta. Many primary and secondary schools in their constituencies, including the ones they attended, are like the those in these pictures.
- Even if you give a native the contract to renovate this school in his/her hometown, which he/she most probably attended, the person, most likely, will use the money to buy a house at Abuja, Lagos, or Dubai.
The youths in the community will rather constitute a nuisance to the contractor if he/she is not a native, asking for stupid development levies as if they live in another planet they want to develop.
I drove through some villages today with my lawyer and we found very dirty villages, with refuse everywhere. I wonder if there are no president generals in these communities or youth leaders. In those days in some communities, there were days for communal work. We are now living like mentality-displaced refugees in our own communities. In one of our communities, the youths broke into the computer center established by the king and stole all the computers and the generator in the place.
- The MOUs between these oil-producing communities and the oil companies also contribute to this tragedy.
When monies are released for projects, a great percentage is shared between the community leadership, and only a small fraction is used for development projects. In a nearby community, several people have been killed and homes destroyed because of tussle for leadership.
I picked up my permanent voters’ card from where I hid it to vote tomorrow. There are very few reasonable options in the ballot, but I will make choices across party lines for those who, at least, meet fitness for purpose. They might not be the best, but some are better than the ones who will stagnate us or take us backward. It is a very painful duty I must do.
- Democracy is about the people.
If the interest of the people is not uppermost in our nation and politics, then it is a process of selecting our oppressors and devils. True, because the devil comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. Does this not sound like politics in Nigeria to you?
We must change.
God Bless You.